In a city so very leisurely, decadent and Southern, it’s perhaps understandable that the vast majority of its hotel rooms may, at first, appear slightly old fashioned – dark woods and floral fabrics aplenty – so if you’re looking for something a little more modern, it can be a bit of a struggle to find something that fits the bill.
International House, just outside of the French Quarter, is, however, an exception to the rule. Stepping into the beautifully restored Beaux Arts building, there’s still a definite sense of the decadence of New Orleans, through the plush, deep reds of the furniture, but the otherwise crisp, neutral colours immediately told us that this was altogether a different breed of hotel.
We were fortunate enough to have a superior corner room, and it was definitely a contrast to the room we’d just left at the Hotel Montelone – very monochrome and cool, with a sense of minimalist luxury. The hotel stands just inside the CBD, so the vista here was distinctly American (as opposed to distinctly New Orleanian) – a graceful mix of old and new, taxis queueing up at the traffic lights on the wide street below – which felt quite exciting when we flung open the curtains in the mornings. Being a corner room, it was flooded with light during the day, and then at night it became very cosy and intimate. The room was a good size – we were there for four nights and found it ample space to spread out – though the bathroom was a little small considering. I loved that the hotel was decorated throughout with really atmospheric black and white jazz photographs – appropriate, considering the city’s history – and, along with the statement-piece chandeliers, they made the rooms feel rather dramatic and interesting.
Though I’ll be completely honest and say that I did miss being right in the thick of the French Quarter, the hotel was close enough (just two blocks away) for it to not really matter – it’s quick (and safe) to walk there and back at night, and it was still easy enough to retreat back to the hotel during the day when the heat got too much. And sometimes, it was nice to leave behind the noise and revelry of the Quarter and enjoy a more low-key surroundings. One thing that was great about the location was that it was just a few minutes from Lafayette Square, where there was a fantastic Blues and BBQ festival taking place during out stay, and only a bit further from the excellent Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
International House doesn’t have a swimming pool, which, if you’re here in the hotter months may be a bit of a disadvantage, though to be honest we didn’t really notice. What it does have is one of the most celebrated (by locals and tourists alike) bars in the city, which serves some great cocktails and inevitably gets packed with beautiful people at night. A big bonus at the hotel is free wifi (many top-end hotels seem to charge for it, unfortunately) – and there’s an iMac in the lobby if you don’t have a laptop with you.
Unfortunately my photos of the hotel didn’t come out right, so I’ve used the hotels own photos here, but I would say that they are completely indicative about how we found things to be – the only difference was that the TV in our bedroom was actually a flatscreen, and we didn’t have candles on our windowsills.
(Part of our stay here was compliments of International House Hotel; however, the review is entirely my own opinion and has not been influenced by this.)
Photographs by International House Hotel.You might also like: